Demonstealer’s Incendiary Metal Assaults “The Propaganda Machine” (Track-by-Track Rundown)
Though Demonstealer's previous albums have examined humanity's failings in great detail, it's never been as incensed as on their upcoming album The Propaganda Machine. Stripping away fantasy and what-ifs, the Indian extreme metal band describes ruinous political structures, shady dealings, and world-changing atrocities with hard-hitting volleys of blast beats and intricate riffs that dramatically combine death, black, and thrash metal. It's a record that reflects the sinister might of the topics it examines, but rages against them at the same time.
Like on many of his albums, sole band member Demonstealer (Sahil Makhija) has recruited an impressive roster of guest musicians. This time, he taps guests from bands like Cognizance, Wormhole, Scale the Summit and more; he also notably enlists ex-Cradle of Filth keyboardist Anabelle Iratni, whose additional atmospheric and melodic contributions give the record's blistering sound some additional depth. The level of technicality on display could be exhausting in some contexts, but Demonstealer's command of rhythm and song structure sculpts his and his guests' expertise into catchy, evocative metal while still putting a whole lot of chops on display. The Propaganda Machine is an exhilarating record that tackles remarkably cynical subject matter, but as Demonstealer's breakdown of the album explains below, hidden in its complex darkness lies a slim hope of success.
Read the full track-by-track breakdown below.
Track-by-track breakdown by Demonstealer:
1. The Fear Campaign - In the current political climate, right-wing politicians in India and the world over use fear to retain and maintain their power. In most countries, there are campaigns used to spread fear among the majority population. Like in India, particularly, there is widespread propaganda to keep Hindus, who form the majority population, in fear. Who are they made to fear? The minority, Muslim population. This campaign of fear has been seen worldwide, in Brexit (I was in the UK when it happened) and even in the more recent BLM protests. It's common practice, and this song breaks down its use of it. Musically I chose to match Hannes Grossmann on drums with Forrest on bass. Both have an almost virtuoso style of playing, but at the same time, without detracting from the song. Anabelle brings some much-needed atmosphere while Dean Paul Arnold matches the virtuoso with his guitar solos, all 3 of them.
2. Monolith Of Hate - As a society, we are being turned into more hateful creatures, we are taught to hate right from a young age, whether it's hating someone for being different, their religion, their skin color, their sexual preferences, hate is being pushed and we're building a monolith of hate. It's something that will consume us. Especially in India, the current right-wing government officials themselves have taken out demonstrations chanting hateful slogans, calling for violent acts and crimes and their entire agenda is built on hate. It is something that needs addressing. Musically this track mixed brutality and melody. They represent anger and sadness together. James Payne delivers unrelenting fury on the drums, while Maritno adds real emotion with his bass playing. Anabelle elevates all the melodies with synths and orchestrations.
3. The Propaganda Machine - This track speaks about how we are often so blind to propaganda. We've been conditioned to be a certain way, whether it's through religion or politics. Religion as well is one of the biggest propaganda machines, and most of the world is conditioned to believe and blind to reality. Musically it's one of the shortest and most straightforward songs on the album. Ken Bedene and Stain have both been solid anchors on this track.
4. The Art of Disinformation - We live in a world where the narrative is controlled by social media, the red pill or the blue pill? In India, there is a massive problem of fake news (as in the rest of the world) but most of the media here is controlled by the right-wing ruling government. They have reached a point where there is barely any other political party that can stand up to them or be a decent opposition. They have what is called an IT cell where people are employed just to spread propaganda and misinformation using Whatsapp which is the biggest spreader of misinformation in our country. We have had people lynched and killed because of Whatsapp forwards. During the protests against a controversial citizenship act, the IT cell was in full swing. Their biggest claim to fame is being able to make anything trend on Twitter. You can actually see like a copy-pasted tweet about any trending topic, and it's just a nightmare to navigate this. Lyrically my song addresses this issue which is a global problem. We also saw this happen during the attack on Ukraine. Musically Sebastian Lanser was able to really take this song to the next level with his precise drumming and extremely tasteful style. Kilian Duarte brings in that rock-solid low end. For the lead guitar, I managed to get Alex from Cognizance who I am a huge fan of, and his leads are ever so tasty, with lots of emotion in his playing.
5. Screams of Those Dying - India has been plagued by communal problems ever since the British decided to divide and rule. Even today politicians create, feed and nurture a Hindu-Muslim divide in this country. Our Prime Minister was quite the face of deadly riots in Gujarat in 2002, and his political party follows that Hindu supremacy model and thought. Just before the pandemic the Hindu extremists rioted and went on a rampage killing many Muslims after politicians from the ruling party went on campaigns making hate speeches. I'd urge people to read about it as well.
The song is about the communal violence, riots and disharmony created in India. Musically, Dominic and Hannes acted as the perfect combination for this track.
6. The Great Dictator - I guess the title pretty much explains itself. I think musically, this track is a real journey, probably the most progressive on the album. James Payne has outdone himself. I pushed the speed on this track to about 260 bpm because I really just needed to push myself to the limit as well. Once again, it's a melodic track but brutal at the same time. Ananbelle took the orchestration of this song up about 5 notches, and we really wanted to give it that grand feeling. Martino's bass lines once again add so much emotion and melody without taking away from the brutality.
7. The Anti-National - One of the tactics of the right wing, especially in India, is to brand people as 'anti-national'. If you question the government, you are anti national, if you don't do something that promotes a certain ideology, then you are anti-national. The worst part is that it's tied politics and the Hindu religion together. So today, if you eat beef, you are considered anti-national even though the constitution grants me the right to it. The current government is very aggressive, very pro-Hindu and fascist in nature and with supporting groups that are very violent. If anyone criticizes the current prime minister, the army of online trolls and even in-person goons will show up to cause trouble, and you are branded anti-national. I believe those that are critical and look to push the government to work for the betterment of the people vs playing religious and political games are the real patriots, and this song speaks about this. We're all proud anti-nationals. Sebastian Lanser packs a powerful punch on this track along with Kilian Duarte on bass, both are very technical players, but this song needed a more straightforward in-your-face approach, and they have played for the song.
8. Crushing The Iron Fist - I'd like to think of this song as a note of hope to end the album on. I'd like to believe that we will leave the world better than we found it, that we will live in a world that is more just and equal for all people. That we will treat others with kindness and we won't let tyranny and oppression win. But the truth is that this is a long fight, and change doesn't happen overnight. And I top my hat and acknowledge all the people who have sacrificed their time, energy, effort and sometimes even their lives to create a better world, one they may have never gotten to see in their lifetime, but their efforts have been the building blocks to the future. Musically I got one of my favorite guitar players Sanjay Kumar to throw down not one but 3 epic guitar solos, they really add an incredible dynamic to the song, which Ken Bedene blasts through the drums and Stian, as always, holds down the fort with Anabelle whose keys compliment the riffs beautifully.
The Propaganda Machine releases today via Black Lion Records.